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Managers: Important Trends You And Your Leaders Need To Know About

by Thuy Sindell, PhD. and Milo Sindell, MS.

Remember Michael Stuban? He’s the former Pennsylvania Turnpike Commission manager who, after 35 years on the job, retired last December. When HR asked Stuban to complete an exit survey, he agreed. Then he used the opportunity to be honest in a way only a departing employee can be.

“Employees are kept in the dark,” he said. “Executive level management is out of touch with the average employee, only looking out for themselves.”

Unfortunately for his former employer, Stuban then accidentally hit reply-all, sending the scathing view of the company to about 2,000 employees. As a result, the company — and the rest of the county — got a look at what happens when you fail to keep up with the latest management trends: a deep, negative impact on your organization.

Don’t wait for an angry employee’s email to go viral to realize you’re behind. Here are three management trends you need to know about right now:

Trend #1: Having managers act as coaches

To some extent, managers have always been expected to act as coaches. But recently, it’s become obvious these two responsibilities are distinct, requiring different approaches and training.

For example, managers and coaches wouldn’t deliver the same feedback to an employee after they complete a project. While managers would focus on performance and goals, a coach would look at how employees used new skills.

To be effective as coaches, managers’ communication skills need to be refined. And most importantly, they need to know how to properly balance their time between managing and coaching.

In fact, a 2016 BlessingWhite study found that the biggest issues managers face when it comes to coaching is a lack of time. Twenty-nine percent of respondents listed this as the reason they had trouble coaching others.

If you expect your managers to act as coaches, make sure you support them probably. That begins with making it clear how much time they should spend coaching — rather than managing — each employee. Having a set time to switch roles will ensure they fulfill both responsibilities.

2. Needing to manage a virtual workplace

Partially or completely virtual offices are becoming more common in every industry. As distributed workforces grow, it’s become very obvious managing in a virtual workplace is not the same as managing in a traditional environment.

Managers face different challenges than in the past. In fact, a 2016 RW3 CultureWizard study found that only 36 percent of people have lead a virtual team before.

Help them prepare for this management trend by making them aware of what they’ll be up against. According to the same study, the top three aspects that threaten the productivity of virtual teams include:

- Fully understanding the context of what people are communicating
- Managing conflict
- Establishing trust

At the core of these challenges is communication. So, ensure managers are communication masters. If they aren’t, give them the support and training they’ll need to improve in this area.

3. Increasing accountability in the workplace

A survey from Waggl found one of the biggest HR priorities in 2016 was “leadership development throughout the field, with a strong emphasis on personal accountability.” Without accountability, companies make poor decisions. And worst of all, no one feels responsible for correcting them.

To avoid this, organizations want to make sure that leaders at all levels understand the importance of accountability. They’re looking for ways to build their culture around that belief.

One of the best ways to do this is to reframe how you and your managers think of failure. If failure is considered a bad thing, employees become scared of it. Furthermore, when they do make a mistake, they try to cover it up or back away from it.

When failure is an opportunity, however, employees are willing to take responsibility for it. Managers working as coaches need to encourage accountability so employees feel a stronger connection to their work.

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